posts about or somewhat related to ‘App Store’

Apple Pulls 500px’s Mobile Apps From The App Store, Claiming It’s Too Easy To Search For Nude Photos →

Via TechCrunch:

Toronto photo-sharing startup 500px is reporting today that both of its applications, 500px for iOS and its recent acquisition ISO500, have been pulled from the Apple App Store due to concerns about nude photos. Combined, the apps have over 1 million downloads, 500px COO Evgeny Tchebotarev tells us…

The apps were pulled from the App Store this morning around 1 AM Eastern, and had completely disappeared by noon today. The move came shortly after last night’s discussions with Apple related to an updated version of 500px for iOS, which was in the hands of an App Store reviewer.

The Apple reviewer told the company that the update couldn’t be approved because it allowed users to search for nude photos in the app. This is correct to some extent, but 500px had actually made it tough to do so, explains Tchebotarev. New users couldn’t just launch the app and locate the nude images, he says, the way you can today on other social photo sharing services like Instagram or Tumblr, for instance. Instead, the app defaulted to a “safe search” mode where these type of photos were hidden. To shut off safe search, 500px actually required its users to visit their desktop website and make an explicit change.

Tchebotarev said the company did this because they don’t want kids or others to come across these nude photos unwittingly. “Some people are mature enough to see these photos,” he says, “but by default it’s safe.”

FJP: A few things to note:

Noted, Part One: as one commenter on the story writes, “Do they plan on removing Safari from iOS as well? And every other mobile web browser?”

Noted, Part Deux: God forbid they take a close look at what you can find with the Tumblr app.

Noted, the third: Here’s where you come across the very serious issue of a gatekeeping ecosystem where app developers and publishers are essentially at the whims of Apple. For example, last summer Apple refused to carry an app that mapped publicly reported drone strikes.

We need some angry nerds.

Jonathan Zittrain, Technology Review. The Personal Computer is Dead.

Jonathan Zittrain, whose 2008 book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It explores the transformation of the open Internet to one that’s increasingly closed and controlled, writes that the growth of “App Stores” is putting too much technological and content control in the hands of too few companies.

The companies, Zittrain argues, are gatekeepers that lock us into platforms and the way we access content as they lock other content and technologies out. 

"If I switch from iPhone to Android, I can’t take my apps with me, and vice versa," writes Zittrain. "And as content gets funneled through apps, it may mean I can’t take my content, either—or, if I can, it’s only because there’s yet another gatekeeper like Amazon running an app on more than one platform, aggregating content. The potentially suffocating relationship with Apple or Google or Microsoft is freed only by a new suitor like Amazon, which is structurally positioned to do the same thing."

And doing the same thing is to have an “App Store Framework” of their own where they can lock in or lock out applications and content.

"But the fact that apps must routinely face approval masks how extraordinary the situation is," writes Zittrain. "Tech companies are in the business of approving, one by one, the text, images, and sounds that we are permitted to find and experience on our most common portals to the networked world. Why would we possibly want this to be how the world of ideas works, and why would we think that merely having competing tech companies—each of which is empowered to censor—solves the problem?"

Publishers Unhappy with Apple →

According to Jeremy Peters of the New York Times, publishers are frustrated with Apple’s restrictive app store policies, believing their inability to use subscription models is limiting business plans and models.

Apple may offer new opportunities with its devices, but it exacts a heavy toll. Magazine publishers argue in particular that limiting magazine sales on the iPad to single issues (except in a handful of cases) has hamstrung publishers from fully capitalizing on a new and lucrative business model…

…Many applications cost almost as much as a printed copy of a magazine, a difficult concept for consumers to get their heads around considering that a paper product is more expensive to assemble and distribute than an electronic version of a magazine. The New Yorker, for example, costs $4.99 an issue in Apple’s App Store but $5.99 on the newsstand. Esquire is also $4.99 an issue, the same as the cover price on the newsstand.

Subscriptions are another sticking point. A vast majority of magazines available on the iPad must be bought per copy. Customers cannot subscribe and have it delivered as they can with other publications available on the iPad like The Economist, The Wall Street Journal or The Daily, the News Corporation’s new iPad-only venture that is to begin within the next few weeks. That means if consumers want to receive the magazine regularly, they would have to pay far above normal subscription rates.

“Sheer highway robbery,” read one recent comment about The New Yorker in the App Store. “I’ll keep with my paper subscription. I will never pay $250 per year for an app.”

As we noted the other day, release of News Corporation’s iPad-only The Daily was delayed in order to implement a subscription model into the iTunes store. We can’t imagine that once it’s in place, Apple won’t let other publishers start to use it.